New team of directors bring change in band program


Tarryn Britt

A group of band members playing on the field during halftime. They performed at the Akins and Crockett game.

Arianna Farner, Social Media Manager/Staff Writer

Extracurricular program sponsors for programs like choir, orchestra, and the band can often spend more time with students during the school year than they do with their own kids. When the former head band director Tate Fincher and his two assistant band directors left at the end of the last school year, it came as a shock to the band students who had only worked with him in their time as members of the Akins Eagles band. New Director of Bands Babatunde Onibudo was originally hired to be an assistant band director, but he was soon named to the top position shortly after Fincher announced his departure. Jason Martinez, associate director of bands, and Daniel Sharp, associate director of bands and Director of Percussion Studies, came on board shortly after and had to adjust to their new roles.

“I think that coming into this everyone was pretty shocked,” senior Elizabeth Rocha said. “It kind of happened really fast. But you really just take a step back and look at it. It’s been a positive change on everyone between all the members of the band and the color guard.”

The new directors have high hopes for the band program and want to continue to grow the program. They have goals of being more musically advanced and increasing membership in the band.

“I think it’s more of a continuation of growth and then just achieving high excellence,” Onibudo said. “Just keep adding to the success (the past directors) already had and creating new success where not only are students able to be happier and play more advanced music, but be able to have a fun musical experience.”

Seniors, who have the most experience with the past directors, have had varying degrees of adjusting. Students generally seem to like this new system that pushes for harder work, more progress, and a greater amount of competitive spirit.

“I personally feel that we as the program have gotten a lot better than where we have been before because we’ve been making it to finals constantly and before it would be rare if we made it,” senior Elyssa Castillo said.

Many students said that they felt the same and that the new directors are influencing the program to become better than before.

“This year it’s definitely directed towards getting things done. Honestly, the biggest change that I’ve noticed is a change in mindset. Everybody just seems to be more focused on getting to our main goal and just being the best band that we can be,” senior Jayden Knight said.

Although many students have welcomed and even liked the change in directors, some are more hesitant to accept the change. With such a large change in staff, students sometimes struggle adjusting to new personalities and how the program is run. Some students left the band program altogether.

“A lot of kids quit after Fincher left. More of the harder workers have stayed in. The ones that still want to do (work) even though the directors are all different,” junior Logan Austin said.

This change in student population hasn’t seemed to affect the band as a whole or the directors’ plans for the program.

“We’re hard on the kids because we care about their education. But we also care (about them),” Sharp said. “We show up early and we leave late every day make sure (the students) have access to everything they need in order to be successful.”

This year, 12 students made the Region 18 All-Region band, and 7 of those students advanced to area. The band as a whole received a first division ranking at district competition for marching and advanced to the area competition. It was also ranked seventh overall at the USBands Remo series finale.

“With (the previous directors) I feel like we were getting to a point where it’s kind of stagnant with the program as a whole like we’re all just used to the normal,” senior Christian Morales said. “So with (the new directors) here it’s a change that not everyone’s going to accept, but I think it’s good to have something different.”